Duo allege coffin was used before to 'scare' mielie thieves

Delmas - The coffin that Victor Mlotshwa was forced into was allegedly used before as a means to scare people from stealing mielies on the farm, the High Court in Delmas has heard.

The advocates for the two accused, Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen, argued that the coffin had been used before by farm owner Johannes de Beer.

De Beer, who employed Jackson, took the stand on Monday.

During cross examination, advocate Wayne Gibbs for Oosthuizen said the very reason that Oosthuizen had thought of using the coffin after apprehending Mlotshwa was because De Beer had told him about an occasion when he had used it to scare people who were stealing mielies on the farm.

"He thought it would be opportune to scare Mlotshwa to not steal and not carry out threats," Gibbs said.

De Beer confirmed that he and Oosthuizen had caught people who were taking mielies and that Oosthuizen had left De Beer with those that had been apprehended. He, however, denied the use of the coffin.

De Beer said he told them that he wouldn't open a case if they told him who was buying the mielies.

Advocate Org Basson for Jackson also put it to De Beer that it was common knowledge that the coffin had been used before to scare people on the farm. De Beer again vehemently denied this.

De Beer did, however, admit that he had lied under oath when making his affidavit to the police concerning where the coffin was.

Earlier on Monday while being cross examined by the state, De Beer said he had told Jackson that the coffin belonged to him now and that he wanted nothing to do with it.

But, when under cross examination by the defence, he then admitted that he had told Jackson to get rid of it.

The defence pointed out that he had said this before he made his affidavit to the police saying that, as far as he knew, the coffin was in storage.

Both accused have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and have offered certain admissions which include that they both allege Mlotshwa was found trespassing and in possession of suspected stolen property, identified as copper cable.

The charges that both the accused face are possessing of an unlicensed firearm, kidnapping, intimidation, defeating the ends of justice, two charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.

Both the accused, who are foremen on different farms in Middelburg, said after they arrested Mlotshwa, they informed him that they would take him to the police.

Mlotshwa then allegedly threatened to burn down the farm's crops and murder the wives and kids of both accused. Both have made the admission that this was when they decided to not take Mlotshwa to the police and instead take him to a remote area in order to "convince" him not to go through with his alleged threats.

They then admit to forcing him into the coffin in an attempt to threaten and scare him. The incident happened in August 2016 and was caught on video.

The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday morning where an inspection-in-loco will take place on the farm where the incident happened.

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